Must-Have Makeup Essentials

As a now “retired” makeup artist, I am always asked to tag along to Sephora trips, recommend gift ideas, or suggest the best foundation for someone’s skin type. Never shy away from asking me these questions because I will always happily answer them! Breaking down skin care routines and explaining color theory will always fill me with joy – I’m weird, it’s fine. To make things simple, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite, must-have makeup essentials to keep your cosmetic bag stocked or give you a jump start on using all those beauty gift cards you racked up over the holidays.


Okay, let’s start with your face products as I usually recommend this is where you should always invest in elevated and luxe beauty brands. Sure, you may have just flawless executed a winged liner that could make a grown-woman cry, but who cares if your facial makeup is not top-notch along side that gorgeous eye look? Investing in high-quality products, and taking the time to use them correctly, makes all the difference. For this category, my makeup bag is never without Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer (one of the few true makeup primers I love), Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (easily my favorite foundation of all time), Nars Orgasm Blush ( a true classic) , and Armani Neo Nude Fusion Powder ( a semi-recent find that I don’t know how I’ve lived without it, it’s the perfect powder without any cake.) I’m also going to have throw an honorable mention out to Nars Creamy Concealer in my makeup essentials, because it is consistently one of the best concealers on the market and I always go back to it, even if I stray to other brands.

Eyes & Brows

While I have an addiction to foundations and all things skin, even I have to admit that eye makeup is generally where all the fun products get to hang out. Now that I have lash extensions (seriously amazing, can’t praise them enough), I don’t wear as much eye makeup, but I do keep my trusty favorites around just in-case. For example, I can’t live without the Tom Ford Shadow Quads. This is my third one, second of the Honeymoon quad, and they are just so easy to throw in your bag for travel or an after work event.

Eyeliner has really been put on the back burner for me since getting extensions, but having a deep, chocolate brown pencil liner on hand is ideal for day or night. I’ve tried so many and have only had a few negative experiences (I’m looking at you Urban Decay 24/7 liners), but my current favorite is Pat McGrath Labs PermaGel Eye Pencil – both the matte and shimmer brown are gorgeous.

Finally, I have to add in a brow product in my makeup essentials because Lord knows the house could be on fire and I’d have to stop and do my brows before grabbing family photos. Because I am so obsessed with doing my brows, I have a plethora of products – perhaps a full post needs to be dedicated to brows? I think so. For now, the one thing that I would reach for in a pinch would be the Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel. It has hyaluronic acid that plumps up the brow hair to make them appear fuller and the sheen gives dimension to your brows, however you could opt for the clear if you don’t love the tint/sheen.


Lip products are one category that I’ll always have a few things on rotation, usually in some shade of nude. I’m also from West Virginia, so you know I’m definitely a lipstick kind of girl. Some of my favorite makeup essentials in lipsticks include Chanel, Tom Ford, Nars, MAC, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Pat McGrath, and the brand passed down from my Momma to me, L’Oréal. The lip items I’ll riot over if they are discontinued include Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Nude or Honey for an easy throw on lip option,  MAC lip glass is a go-to in a myriad of colors but Please Me is one I will never be without, and finally my dear friend Emily Jimison, a fabulous makeup artist, CEO, and amazing human, turned me onto NYX lip pencil in Nude Beige. I wear it under lip balm, on nights out, and everything in between. It is also so inexpensive so I keep one in every purse, my car, and my desk at the office!

Tools & Extras

The Beis cosmetic bag I picked up before Josh and I headed to France in the Fall, is hands down my favorite makeup accessory purchase this year. If you are a Shay Mitchell fan, definitely pick this up because her style and smarts went into every stitch of this new line by her. I have the weekender bag, belt bag, a carry-on, and now this cosmetic bag and I can tell you it is all super high quality and gorgeous.

Additionally, I always recommend the original beauty blender as the beauty tool to add to your arsenal for everything from a flawless foundation application and smooth concealer to a dewy highlight and untraceable contour. There are a few tricks to the beauty blender though. First, you must buy the actual beauty blender. No, not a similar looking product you ordered in bulk from Amazon or something you found at TJ Maxx, it has to be the original for it to give the best results. Second, you have to use it damp. I run my clean blender under luke warm water while I squeeze to allow water to fill it up. It should triple in size. Make sure you squeeze all of the water out and I even go so far as to dab mine on a towel to ensure it just fills cool and damp, but not overly wet. Finally, bounce it on your skin for application instead of sweeping or rubbing. Keep your beauty blender clean and be gentle with it to make sure it lasts you the full 3-4 month lifespan.

I’d like to think that completely rounds out my makeup essentials, but let’s be real, we all know better and I could go on forever about how amazing whatever product is. However, this should be a great start for anyone looking for a few products to build a solid collection. As always, let me know any specific questions via Instagram or in the comments below!


P.S. – You can shop this pajama set in my beauty sleep routine post here!

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